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Broncos stick to defense but don't land a tackle

Published: Sunday, Aug. 2 2015 4:42 p.m. MDT

Denver Broncos' first round draft pick Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, center, is surrounded by media at the football team's headquarters, Friday, April 29, 2011, in Englewood, Colo. Miller was selected as the second overall pick of the NFL football draft.  (Ed Andrieski, Associated Press) Denver Broncos' first round draft pick Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, center, is surrounded by media at the football team's headquarters, Friday, April 29, 2011, in Englewood, Colo. Miller was selected as the second overall pick of the NFL football draft. (Ed Andrieski, Associated Press)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos are working on the Orange Crush defense Version 2.0.

After selecting Texas A&M's Von Miller in the first round, the Broncos, under new defensive-minded head coach John Fox, traded down nine spots in the second round Friday night and selected UCLA safety Rahim Moore with the 45th overall pick.

Moore, who twice earned All-Pac-10 accolades while starting all 37 games of his college career, said he looks forward to soaking up all the knowledge he can from veteran safety Brian Dawkins.

One selection later, the Broncos chose offensive lineman Orlando Franklin of Miami, who said he was told he'd step in at right tackle in Denver after playing left guard and then left tackle for the Hurricanes.

In the third round, the Broncos went back to fixing their deficient defense, choosing senior inside linebacker Nate Irving, who amassed 224 tackles at North Carolina State, including 39½ for loss despite missing the 2009 season after surviving a serious car crash.

Denver Broncos' first round draft pick Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller responds to questions during a news conference at the football team's headquarters, Friday, April 29, 2011, in Englewood, Colo.  (Ed Andrieski, Associated Press) Denver Broncos' first round draft pick Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller responds to questions during a news conference at the football team's headquarters, Friday, April 29, 2011, in Englewood, Colo. (Ed Andrieski, Associated Press)

The Broncos still have plenty of needs to address, including running back, and now they have five picks on Saturday after trading the 36th overall selection to San Francisco for the Niners' 45th selection, plus a fourth- and fifth-rounder.

One area Fox lamented not addressing yet was defensive tackle, a position that was deep in this draft, although he suggested the answers still could be found in free agency or on his roster already.

"Any time you do draft down, you risk losing players," said Fox, who explained he "thought it was important coming into the draft that we acquire a fourth- and fifth-round pick, which we did not have because it's that type of draft: it's very strong low, it was very good high and in the middle it was a matter of opinion.

"So, at this point, I'd have felt better if we could have gotten a defensive tackle," he said. "We had some guys in mind, didn't get there. They were selected by somebody else. But there's still a lot of draft left ... and we have free agency."

Despite not plugging the middle yet, the Broncos have assembled a potentially potent pass rush in Miller, Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil.

"I might be able to take a little bit of pressure off of Mr. Elvis Dumervil and Mr. Ayers and all those guys," Miller said. "I just want to be a sidekick and help those guys be the best."

Moore said he couldn't wait to learn from Dawkins, who will be 38 next season.

"I look forward to the time that I'll be there because I know he's getting older. I wish I could meet him professionally where he could never age and me and him could play for several years," Moore said.

"I'm excited to learn from a Hall of Famer and Champ Bailey. These guys are my favorites — Champ and B.D. — ever. You know, I even have a picture of them on my phone and my laptop. I'm a huge fan."

While the Broncos' new brain trust of John Elway, Fox and Brian Xanders worked the draft board, 17 veterans showed up for work Friday morning at the team's Dove Valley complex after the league briefly reopened for business. Dawkins, Ayers and Spencer Larsen were among the starters who reported.

However, a federal appeals court threw the NFL back into chaos later Friday as the second round of the draft was under way, granting the league's request to put the lockout back in place.

The Broncos had told their players that workouts Friday and Monday are voluntary and the offseason conditioning program would start Tuesday.

That plan was scuttled with the lockout's return Friday night.

Before the ruling, several Broncos took advantage of the chance to meet with coaches and collect their new playbooks.

"This time off hasn't allowed us to go over the plays, and I got that with me now," Ayers said, pointing to a thick binder on the passenger seat of his Hummer as he left the facility Friday morning.

With the lockout back in place, "at least we can be learning the playbook because we got a new scheme and we're going to have to familiarize ourselves and get going," Ayers said. "So, it's definitely a bonus."

Speaking of bonuses, several players were set to start earning some of their offseason workout money beginning next week before the league reinstated the lockout.

"Yeah, you know, everybody's making that out to be a big thing, but the biggest thing is that we want to be able to work out and work with the team," Ayers said. "The bonus is a plus, but we definitely want to get over here and get things going and learn the playbook and start building the team."

Few teams needed this opportunity more than Denver to distribute playbooks and touch base with the players. The Broncos are coming off a 4-12 season, the worst in their 51-year history, which led to Josh McDaniels' firing after just 22 months on the job.

Fox said it wasn't clear if the Broncos would be able to distribute playbooks to any of their draft picks besides Miller, who visited team headquarters Friday.

While Franklin was told he'll step in at right tackle, Irving said the Broncos told him they like him at middle linebacker, the position he played last season following his horrific auto accident in June 2009.

Authorities said he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his SUV, sustaining injuries that included a collapsed lung and a compound fracture in his left leg. After recovering from his injuries, Irving earned first-team All-ACC and third-team AP All-America honors after ranking sixth nationally in tackles for loss with 20.5. An NCAA-record eight of them came in the Wake Forest game.

"I think there's a lot of guys walking around with plates and screws if they play football," Fox said. "... We would not have taken him if we did not feel good about him medically."

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